Polynesian Art

Polynesian Art


This design is a homage to the prints often used in Aloha Wear. Black tropical flowers are outlined in pastel colors, accented with tear-drop shaped leaves.

Lapita Cultural Traditions

Polynesia, like Micronesia, stretched back to Lapita cultural traditions. Lapita Culture included parts of the western Pacific and reached as far east as Tonga and Samoa. However much of Polynesia, like the islands of Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Easter Island, had only relatively recently been settled by indigenous peoples.

The most famous Polynesian art forms are the Moai (statues) of Rapa Nui/Easter Island. Polynesian art is characteristically ornate, and often meant to contain supernatural power or mana. Polynesian works of art were thought to contain spiritual power and could affect change in the world. However the period beyond 1600 AD had seen intense interaction with European explorers, in addition to continuing earlier cultural traditions.

Colonialism and Polynesian Art

The collections of European explorers during the period show that classical Polynesian art was indeed flourishing. In the 19th century, depopulation of areas due to slave raiding and Western diseases disrupted many societies and cultures. Missionary work in the region caused the conversion to Christianity, and in some cases the destruction of traditional cultural and artistic heritage of the region, specifically sculpture. However more secular art forms continue, such as carving non-religious objects like kava bowls and textile work such as tapa making. With the end of colonialism however, Polynesians increasingly attempted to assert their cultural identity.

Polynesian Gifts


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